This week, the new season of the TV show Glee aired. When I first heard about the show, I wasn’t interested. At first glance it looked fluffy, silly, and not particularly engaging. I don’t watch much television so when I do pick a show to watch it needs to engage my mind, as well as entertain me. For some reason last year, an episode of Glee got recorded and I, grumbling and growling, finally agreed to watch an episode of it. I was hooked.
As a language teacher I can’t help but notice that this hot new TV show offers a veritable cornucopia of material to use in class. Here are a few examples:
- The characters, young high school students speak eloquently. Verbal prowess is the norm among the characters.
- In speaking eloquently, the characters become role models for clear, concise and articulate communication.
- There’s much less slang than on other comedy shows.
- Characters express a wide array of emotions with no vulgar language. Nothing needs to be “bleeped out”. They find appropriate words to express their feelings.
- Characters don’t use phrases such as “So, like…. ya know,” leaving the listener to fill in the blanks.
- Characters will correct each other’s language mistakes. In this season’s premiere, this exchange happened between lead characters Rachel and Finn:
Finn: Rachel is what you’d call a controlist.
Rachel: I’m controlling. ‘Controlist’ isn’t a word.
Where else on television do you get teenage characters who show their vulnerabilities as they try to find their way in the world in a lighthearted, yet serious show where being articulate, and using the English language properly are highlighted?
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.